Click to skip to site content

Due to COVID-19, MOCA is temporarily closed. More information.

Collection > Ger van Elk >

The Discovery of the Sardines, Newhall, California

1971

No image available
  • Medium

    C-print

  • Dimensions

    Frame (each - light wood): 32 1/2 × 35 1/4 in. (82.55 × 89.54 cm)Image (each): 22 3/8 × 25 5/8 in. (56.83 × 65.09 cm)

  • Credit

    The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
    Gift of Dean Valentine and Amy Adelson

  • Accession number

    2014.70A-B

  • Object label

    ​Ger van Elk’s The Discovery of the Sardines, Newhall, California has the air of a scene from a B movie in which the first sign of sardines emerging from a crack in a Los Angeles County road portends a plague of fish roiling just under the surface of the earth. Van Elk plays with photography’s basic claims to truth-telling; this photograph is an unmanipulated, realistic recording, but van Elk himself inserted the sardines in the earthquake-caused fissure. Near Newhall is Placerita Canyon, the site of the first discovery of gold in California, in 1842. It was subsequently home to several major outdoor television and movie filming locations, called “movie ranches.” This diptych shows that, in photography, film, and representation generally, truth and fiction are not mutually exclusive.